We are heading into the final days of February. I realized yesterday that I have done a lousy job letting anyone—even Mary—know how I am doing with the poetry challenge. To everyone’s surprise, especially my own, I feel like I’ve done really well with this.
I’ve read a least one poem a day. I’ve read a few chapbooks, and a collection of poems. I’ve come across some new (to me) poets, and revisited some old favorites.
Yeats Keats and Shakespeare Langston Hughes Nikki Giovanni Mary Oliver Shel Silverstein
Seamus Heaney Maya Angelou Edgar Allen Poe Kazim Ali Anne Sexton e.e. cummings
I’ve touched base with a bunch of my poet friends. (Seriously, guys, for someone who proclaims to have rid her life of poetry, I have a LOT of poet friends! It’s pretty great.)
I’ve even looked at some of the poetry I wrote in a course I took with Joanna Penn Cooper and revised a few pieces. (They still need a LOT of work.)
Some things I’ve learned:
Like my taste in music, which is VERY broad, my taste in poetry is all over the map. (I’m MULTI-FACETED people.)
Poetry is part of how I learn about someone and about their culture—how individuals and how their people handle their big emotions and big events (births, deaths, weddings, etc.) shows up in their poetry. I had forgotten what a beautiful way of engaging with others. I’m glad I remembered.
Turns out I never really swept poetry out of my life. As practical and efficient as I have become, I have in fact kept a steady stream of poetry in my soul that reveals itself in my teaching, in my prayers, in my dreams.
Where is the poetry in your life? What poems do you hold dear?
I love this story about more than 200 volunteers forming a human chain to help a book store move locations in Southampton last month. Community spirit chokes me up anyway, but picturing each beloved book passed hand to hand to hand makes me want to bawl in the best way.
Kristen dared us to find a cool spot and read this month. That’s a little like daring me to breathe or eat cookies, so I was excited. Success was in the bag.
She also issued an “extra credit” dare to re-read something we read when we were younger. This excited me even more–she probably doesn’t know it, but I was voted Most Likely to Do Extra Credit in high school. (Yes, really. I like to hope that I’ve mellowed a bit since then, but I’m going to do the extra credit even if I already have an A-plus and you can’t stop me.) As it happened, by August 1 I was on vacation with my family and had at least five books in my backpack, two of which I had requested from the library because I’d read them as a kid and wanted to reread them. I gleefully spent a few minutes each night revisiting a world that had enchanted me as a seventh grader.
But then we came home from vacation. We came back to reality, to piles and piles of laundry, to grocery schlepping and meal planning and back-to-school shopping. Suddenly it was hard to keep my eyes open for a few stolen minutes of reading each day, even in the middle of the afternoon. I’d get through a sentence just fine, the next would blur a bit as my head bobbed, and before I knew it I’d be mumbling “hunh” to a kid’s question, which they’d take as a “yes” and run off to do I’m-not-sure-what with what they presumed was my permission.
In other words, this dare is just what I need to force me to carve out purposeful time to read. The end of summer will get hectic—it always does. My youngest two don’t start school until after Labor Day, so they’ll be wanting to pack in fun activities while they still can. This will take some planning, and will probably require the use of an earlier wake-up alarm for some quiet time. But I am eagerly anticipating returning to the pages that initially captivated a much-younger me.